Welcome to NBA signing day tracker: Griffin, Nash, more ink deals

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It’s official, Steve Nash is a Los Angeles Laker. And Blake Griffin is a very rich Clipper.

All the deals that have been reported in the past 10 days — such as Deron Williams re-signing with the Nets — go from “agreement reached” to “pen on paper” today. The league has a 10-day moratorium on signings that begins with free agency July 1, but that is over. Today you sign your name on the line that is dotted.

Here is a running tracker of deals we know to be signed and new deals announced on what will be a busy day (so check back often, all times Eastern).

9:04 P.M.

• Jamal Crawford made it official and signed a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Adding him and Lamar Odom to their core from last year is an upgrade, we’ll see if it’s enough of one to keep Chris Paul happy.

• Ian Mahinmi was sent to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade (4-years, 16 million) for Darren Collison and Danhtay Jones go to Dallas.

• With Collison gone, the Pacers have targeted D.J. Augustin for a trade.

• J.J. Hickson has signed a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

5:44 P.M.

• Center Chris Kaman has tweeted that he will be signing with the Dallas Mavericks, teaming up with fellow German National Team member Dirk Nowitzki.

• The Nets have reached a four-year, $61 million deal to keep Brook Lopez. That’s overpaying for him.

5:29 P.M.

• The Dallas Mavericks have reached terms with Chris Kaman, who is a German national team teammate of Dirk Nowitzki.

• Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey confirms that Portland will match Minnesota’s offer for Nicolas Batum and keep him.

4:20 P.M.

• Dwight Howard to the Nets is dead and it sounds like the Magic are retreating from the trade talks for a bit and will reassess where things stand.  What a mess. For Howard, for the Magic, for everyone. And this is really just a hiatus for the trade talks, not an end.

• The Kings re-signed forward Jason Thompson, as had been agreed to a few days back.

3:25 P.M. 

The Dorell Wright trade sending the Warriors swingman to the 76ers just expanded — Jarrett Jack is going to Warriors as part of the deal. The Hornets clear $5.4 million off their books and the Warriors get a true point guard to come off the bench and put up some points. The Hornets are taking back a second round pick, stash in Europe kid.

2:50 P.M.

In another expected move, Tim Duncan has signed his three-year deal to remain with the Spurs.

• It’s official, Marcus Camby is once again a Knick, the trade from the Rockets has been approved by the league.

• The Jazz have officially re-signed the human pogo stick, Jeremy Evans.

• The Nuggets have bought out the European contract of draft pick Evan Fournier and he will be in Denver next season.

1:56 P.M.

• The Nuggets have made the re-signing of Andre Miller official, a three-year deal the sides agreed to last week.

• The sign-and-trade of Ryan Anderson to the Hornets is official now as well.

• Gerald Wallace has signed with the Nets, four years and $40 million.

• Patrick Ewing Jr. has signed to play in Germany.

 12:52 P.M.

• Trades keep on becoming official, including Gary Forbes being sent to the Rockets.

• And Gustavo Ayon trade from the Hornets to the Magic has been cleared by the league.

• There is a growing buzz that Kyle Korver will be traded from the Bulls to the Timberwolves. Not sure what would be coming back the other way yet.

11:52 A.M.

• The complex cap moves of the Houston Rockets — which impacts Jeremy Lin and more — are underway. First, the trade of Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors has been approved. Now they are waiting for approval on the Marcus Camby trade to the Knicks. After those deals are formal the Rockets will have the cap space to sign Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to offer sheets.

The Knicks will match the Lin offer sheet, but now they need to soothe his ego, too, reportedly.

11:05 A.M.

• And it’s official, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are Miami Heat. They have signed their deals. And the Miami heat team record for most threes taken in a season is about to fall. We can call that one now. By the way, Allen will go back to his old No. 34 with the Heat.

10:40 A.M.

• Well, didn’t see this one coming. The Nets have agreed to a one-year, $1.3 million deal to have Jerry Stackhouse on their team, reports ESPN’s Chad Ford. I think all season I’m just going to refer to him as “the corpse of Jerry Stackhouse.” At age 37 he barely got on the court last season for the Hawks, but I guess the Nets saw something they liked. That or they accidentally were watching scouting tape from 2001.

• The Knicks have signed James White to a deal.

9:59 A.M.

• The Pacers and Roy Hibbert skipped the formalities of matching the Portland max offer sheet and Indy just offered him a max deal, which he will sign, Ken Berger at CBSSports.com tweets. The outcome is the same but the Blazers don’t have their cap space tied up for three days while the matching process takes place.

• The Suns and Hornets apparently will go through the matching game motions, Eric Gordon is expected to sign a max off sheet from Phoenix today, reports the Arizona Republic. The Hornets will match eventually, even though Gordon has said he wants to play for the Suns. He is key to the rebuilding in New Orleans.

• Nenad Krstic has signed to stay with CSKA Moscow and will not be returning to the NBA.

9:35 A.M.

• The Lakers and Suns made the Steve Nash trade official. Nash joins Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (the last two of those for now at least) in L.A. to form a contender that could challenge the Thunder if everything comes together for them (and they get another perimeter shooter/defender). By the way, Nash will wear No. 10 with the Lakers (his No. 13 is retired as Wilt Chamberlain’s number).

• We told you already that Deron Williams remains a Net and will make enough money to live in New York City. Which is no small feat. The only interesting note here to add is that he was given the official contract on an iPad and signed his name with his finger. Honestly not sure how my signature would look if I tried that.

• Blake Griffin put his name on the dotted line and will remain with the Clippers, a five-year deal but the final year of that is a player option. This is Griffin’s first post rookie deal contract and there was never any doubt he would take the big payday to stay in L.A. The real challenge for the Clippers now is getting Chris Paul to stay next summer.

• J.R. Smith inked a two-year deal to be a designated gunner with the New York Knicks.

• Darrell Athur is in Memphis and signed a new three-year deal with the Grizzlies.

• The Grizzlies also added Jerryd Bayless. That is a couple good, affordable role players signings for them.

According to reports out of Spain, Portland has signed Joel Freeland to a three-year, $9 million deal. Freeland was the last pick of the first round by the Blazers back in 2006, but he has only played in Europe (Spain, specifically) since then. He is a 6’11” power forward who is fairly athletic and has a midrange game, according to reports. We will see, a three-year deal is a risk, but you can bet Freeland is taking a pay cut to come to the NBA. There also is a buyout issue that could kill this deal.

• For those that follow the international game, interesting tweet from Sportando: “In NBA McCalebb was offered up to $4.7M per season but his Buyout is too high plus he would be a backup getting less money than Europe”

• By the way, the league made the salary cap numbers for next year official and as expected they track this year’s — the cap is at $58.044 million, the luxury tax line is $70.307.

• Keep checking back, we’ll be adding to this post and tracking the signings as the day goes on.

Report: Pistons searching for new general manager

Pistons executive Ed Stefanski
Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images
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The Pistons hired Ed Stefanski as a senior advisor to owner Tom Gores in 2018. Among Stefanski’s duties: Assist in the ongoing search for a new head of basketball operations. But it quickly became clear Stefanski would just run the front office himself.

Now, two years later, Detroit is finally getting around to that general-manager search.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Detroit Pistons are opening a search to hire a general manager to work with senior advisor Ed Stefanski, sources tell ESPN.

Stefanski will be working with Pistons and Palace Sports Vice Chairman Arn Tellem on the process to hire a GM, sources said.

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

If Stefanski is still running the front office, a new general manager would be the No. 2 – equivalent to assistant general manager on many teams.

After taking over an inflexible roster left by Stan Van Gundy, Stefanski couldn’t do much. Stefanski’s big move was trading Andre Drummond to the Cavaliers just before the trade deadline. That positioned Detroit to have major cap space next offseason, but it’s unclear how much will actually materialize. The salary cap could drop due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pistons must determine whether they’re still building around Blake Griffin, the 31-year-old due $36,810,996 and $38,957,028 the next two years. Last season, he returned to stardom and carried Detroit into the playoffs. This season, he missed most of the year due to injury.

If they’re trying to win now with Griffin, the Pistons are short on quality complementary players. If Detroit is ready to rebuild, its pool of young talent – Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, Bruce Brown, impending free agent Christian Wood, its own first-round pick – is hardly assured of success.

After years of being stuck on a path charted under the Van Gundy regime, the Pistons can soon pick a new course. This is the time get the front office up to full staffing.

Report: NBA could resume with group stage

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A fundamental conflict for the NBA:

  • The more traditional of a season – all 30 teams playing 82 games, four rounds of best-of-seven series – the league completes, the more more money it will make.
  • The more teams involved in a resumed season, the higher risk of coronavirus spreading throughout the league.

That’s why the NBA is considering a middle ground – resuming without teams far outside playoff position.

But how would the league structure a format for 20 teams?

Maybe a group stage to replace the first round of the playoffs.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

The 16 current playoff teams would qualify for the group stage, plus the four teams with the next-best records (Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs). The remaining 10 teams would be done for the season. The survey sent to each general manager noted that “tiers” would first be created using the regular-season standings to ensure competitive balance between the groups.

Groups could then be randomly drawn, with one team from each tier going into each group. The NBA is working on approaches to fairly balance the groupings, such as limiting each group to only three Western Conference teams, according to multiple front office sources. Drawings for the group stage could be televised, league sources say.

As an alternative to having groups randomly selected, multiple league sources say the league has considered allowing Tier 1 teams—the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers—to draft their own groups.

Teams would play opponents within their own groups twice, meaning every team would play eight games. The two teams in each group with the best record would move on.

Based on the current standings, the tiers would be:

  • Tier 1: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers
  • Tier 2: Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat
  • Tier 3: Thunder, Rockets, Pacers, 76ers
  • Tier 4: Mavericks, Grizzlies, Nets, Magic
  • Tier 5: Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs

As far as ways to resume with 20 teams, this isn’t bad. The draw – whether random or top-team choice – alone would be a revenue-drawing TV event.

The ninth-place (Wizards) and 10th-place (Hornets) teams in the Eastern Conference might argue they should be included over the 11th-place (Kings) and 12th-place (Spurs) teams in the Western Conference. But Sacramento and San Antonio have better records than Washington and Charlotte. If there were ever a time not to stress conference affiliations, it’s now with the league preparing to resume in a single location.

There would be increased risk for top teams getting knocked out early if their group is challenging. They’ve already lost home-court advantage. But there’s also chance of upset in a regular playoff series. Besides, downside could be mitigated by allowing the top teams to draft their groups* and using regular-season record as a tiebreaker.

*This could even be done in reverse – i.e., the top teams selecting which lower-tier teams not to put in their own group.

The Bucks, Lakers, Raptors and Clippers could rotate selecting lower-tier teams to avoid. Once three top-tier teams have nixed a team, that lower-tier team would be placed in the fourth top-tier team’s group. Each group would still be required to have one team from each tier.

Or maybe the top-tier teams could even rotate sticking lower-tier teams into a specific top-tier team’s group. The Bucks could use their first selection on placing the 76ers into the Lakers’ group, for example.

There are many possibilities how to structure a group draft.

If the NBA locks into resuming with 20 teams, the other 10 teams would be incentivized to vote for whatever system generates the most revenue. Those 10 votes could boost any proposal that would otherwise be doomed by teams trying to clear their own path deep into the playoffs.

This system would satisfy players on marginal teams – like Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard – who want to play only if the games are meaningful. It’d also allow the worst teams just to be done.

The draft order and lottery odds would have to be re-considered with a 20-team group phase. Though that’s a minor issue, it’d involve every team. Again, self-interest would creep in.

This idea has some rough precedent. In 1954, the playoffs began with three-team round robins in each the East and West.

The bigger question is how many NBA teams should resume? But if the best answer is 20, this is the best format I’ve seen.

Lakers’ Jeanie Buss talks steps that led to brother Jim’s removal

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Late Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss set up a very detailed trust and succession plan for his beloved franchise. His daughter Jeanie Buss would be the team’s governor, and his son Jim Buss would run basketball operations. If there was an issue, Jeanie had the ultimate power.

In 2017, after the Lakers missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year and were floundering as an organization, Jeanie used that power to oust Jim and bring in a new front office (Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, of which only Pelinka remains). Recently, Jeanie appeared on the “Daddy Issues with Joe Buck and Oliver Hudson” podcast and laid out the philosophy behind removing her brother. (Hat tip Lakers Nation)

“When my brother wasn’t going with the way my dad did things, it was a little distressing for me…

“You’re down and losing, and then my brother was changing coaches every 18 months. Sometimes you have to make coaching changes, I get that. But when you go from a coach like Mike Brown, whose emphasis was defense, to a coach like Mike D’Antoni, who really doesn’t worry so much about defense, that’s two different rosters that you need. Then the outside world thinks, ‘They don’t know what direction they’re going in.’

“You should be able to see a pathway as you hire a coach, you give him the players for his style of basketball and you make decisions that follow ones before it. You follow the path and what the person is thinking. But I couldn’t see what was going on, where he was trying to go and what our identity was going to be as a team.”

The path was clearer with Magic and Pelinka because they quickly landed LeBron James as a free agent (how much they had to do with LeBron’s decision is up for debate). The Lakers instantly became a win-now team and, a year later, traded a lot of the young players and picks to put Anthony Davis next to LeBron. The result has been the team with the best record in the West heading into the playoffs (whatever they look like).

Jim Buss swung and missed plenty, but he had a few hits as well. From the outside looking in, the biggest challenge seemed to be he operated with a mindset of “Laker exceptionalism” — that the very best players would always flock to the Lakers because they are the Lakers. The NBA doesn’t work that way anymore. No doubt, the Lakers have advantages few franchises can match. But from Jerry Buss to Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak, all through the Lakers’ successful runs, they didn’t approach things with a mindset of exceptionalism. The Lakers’ front office was bold, but it was grounded and smart — they identified and developed talent, they always had a strong core, and they had strong relationships with players. It wasn’t exceptionalism, it was hard work.

On top of that, Jim had become the scapegoat of Lakers’ fans, the focus of their blame for the years not in the playoffs. Fair or not, it became a public relations issue, not just a management issue.

Jeanie made the right move. And it may even lead to another ring soon.

Damian Lillard: I won’t play if Trail Blazers have no shot at playoffs

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Most players on lottery-bound teams reportedly prefer to be finished rather than return as the NBA attempts to finish its season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Someone finally put his name behind that sentiment.

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that [expletive] in there,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday morning via phone.

I do feel like if we do come back and our mind is right, we can beat anyone. It’s going to be hard to get going with no fans, you’ve been off all this time and some people are just ready for summer like, ‘[Expletive] it, I haven’t played in a long time and the season is basically over to me. Do I really care like I cared before?’ It’s going to be a lot of those factors going on and that presents a lot of room for a team to sneak some [expletive]. Like, really mess around and knock some teams off and then, ‘Oh, they’re in the Western Conference finals.’ It’s room for that with this situation. So the fact that it’s possible and we wouldn’t get an opportunity at that, that’s weak to me. I ain’t getting no younger.”

In ninth place, Portland is 3.5 games behind the eighth-place Grizzlies. The Trail Blazers might still have a chance to reach the playoffs. It depends on the NBA’s format for resumption.

There’s consideration to bringing back only teams with a postseason chance, anyway. But there’s also talk of all 30 teams playing in order to fulfill local TV contracts.

Lillard is a tremendous leader. If he doesn’t play, that would cast such a negative feeling onto his Portland teammates – and beyond. Lillard’s voice could affect how the entire league handles its return.

With a super-max extension already signed, Lillard has the luxury of being able to afford risking his paycheck by not playing. Not everyone can do that. There are major complications in determining how much money, if any, non-returning players should earn.

This also gets into an issue even in normal times: There are too many games late in the season involving at least one team incentivized to lose. The Trail Blazers have made the playoffs every season after Lillard’s rookie year. He has never had to worry about this since becoming a star. But players and teams annually grapple with games that, at best, don’t really matter. It creates a horrible product.

The concern is just magnified now because of the heightened risk of playing.

The NBA should listen to Lillard’s apprehension, realize he’s not alone and take it seriously. Then, whenever normal play resumes, the league should also realize this type of situation comes up – admittedly, with lower stakes – every year.